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Once You Step Up, You Can Never Go Back

One of my fondest memories of PodCamp Boston 2 was sitting at lunch on Sunday talking with one of my martial arts instructors, Dennis Mahoney, about profound knowledge and Sisyphus vs. stairs. I’m constantly in search of profound knowledge, which, as Anthony Robbins defines it, is knowledge that once you understand it, makes an immediate impact and difference in your life.

Sisyphus, for those who slept through mythology, was a king punished for trickery by the gods to a hellish fate: push a large rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down, and be forced to repeat that task for eternity.

Most people’s lives can be described as Sisyphean. They wake up, go to work, come home, drink and watch TV, fall asleep, and repeat the next day until one day when they don’t wake up any more. Many activities are the same – working out, for example, is Sisyphean. You benefit as long as you keep pushing, but the moment you stop, the boulder starts to roll down hill.

Stepping up is different. Profound knowledge enables stepping up. Once you understand something, once you grasp profound knowledge, you can’t go back to the person you used to be. You are forever changed, forever better, and nothing except extreme forgetfulness can ever force you to step back.

The example I cite often is the rule of thirds in photography. Look through your camera viewfinder, draw a tic-tac-toe grid on it, and position your subjects at the intersections of the vertical and horizontal lines. Immediately, anyone who doesn’t understand this technique will take better photographs if they practice it. There’s of course still tons to learn, from lighting to composition to aperture, etc. but just this one piece of profound knowledge changes you forever, and you can’t go back.

What are you doing in life that is Sisyphean, and how can you convert more of your life from pushing boulders to stepping up, making breakthroughs? What profound knowledge have you acquired in your life that you can share here in the comments?